Interview With The Author: Patrick Hoffman
John Dwaine McKenna
Hi everybody the MBR was fortunate enough to snag an interview with one of the best new young guns in thriller fiction, Patrick Hoffman. He graciously took time out from the hectic schedule to share his insights and unique techniques with us in one of the most interesting interviews we’ve done to date. So, with out further delay, here’s Patrick Hoffman, who’s first question is:
What do you write about?
My second book is called, Every Man a Menace. That’s what I write about. The fact that all people are horrible and nobody can be trusted! Just kidding. But I do like to write thrillers and you need bad people for thrillers. That being said, my real mission is to make you care about my bad people. To make you understand them. I guess that’s what I really write about.
Where do you write?
Haha! Lately, I’ve been writing in my car. I have two children and we’re all home together so I need an escape, but the truth is I love writing in the car. I wrote most of my first book, The White Van, in a white van on my lunch breaks. I like to drive somewhere with a view! But now it’s too hot to work in the car so I have to go to a rented office. As soon as it cools down, I’ll be back in the car. I like that it’s ritualistic, too. I sit down in the car, and I’m like, Okay, I’m here to write: Go! Also, no internet connection is a great thing!
Do you plot or outline?
I don’t really plot the books out. I just follow the story where it takes me. I’d love to, but when I try to think that way my mind turns into crickets. Total silence. I need to be in the story to do it. I start with some kind of inciting incident and then try to figure out what happened. In my new book, Clean Hands, the incident is a lawyer’s stolen cell phone with important documents on it. That begged the question: What was in those documents? Who would want to steal them? Why? Who would the law firm hire to get them back? How much chaos would ensue?
Do you read your reviews? How do you deal with negative reviews?
I do tend to read my reviews. I really wish I wouldn’t. They can get in my head. I have stopped reading the Amazon and Goodreads reviews. Those can be especially painful to read. I cleanse myself by reading the bad Amazon reviews for books I love, like Sarah Waters, The Paying Guest. Some people gave that book 1 star. Some people are absolutely insane!
What’s your advice for aspiring writers?
I had an artist friend give me some advice when I really got started. I told him I always felt inspired and good when I started writing fiction, but then that feeling would inevitably go away and I’d feel bad and fraudulent. He told me to see the bad feeling as a good sign, to embrace it, and keep going. That’s the advice I needed to hear. Writing doesn’t always have to feel good. In fact, it often won’t. The key is to get your words every day!
Do you like writing in the first or third person?
All of my first three books have been in the third person, but I really would love to write one in the first. Sometimes when I’m feeling stuck, I’ll switch to the first person and then go back later and edit it and change it. I think that’s a nice little trick. It’s also strangely easier to do than you might think.
Does luck play into success?
Luck definitely plays into it. Luck and timing. I met my agent – who I LOVE – in a tiny town in Upstate New York on the day I finished writing my first book. Can you imagine being any luckier? I owe my whole career to her. I’ve had a lot of luck in other ways, too. But I don’t want to jinx myself, so I’m going to go knock on some wood, burn some sage, and throw some salt over my shoulder.
Thanks Patrick for sharing your thoughts with us today all our readers and fans enjoy this section of the Mysterious Book Report . Please let us know about your next project, we’d love to get together again.
Patrick Hoffman Bio:
Patrick Hoffman has worked for over a decade as a private investigator, and as an investigator for the San Francisco public defenders office. During his time at the public defenders office he worked in the homicide unit, where he was the investigator in numerous murder trials that resulted in not guilty verdicts.
Prior to working as an investigator, Hoffman drove a taxi in San Francisco. He was born in San Francisco, but raised in Colorado. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Film Studies from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Hoffman has recently moved to Brooklyn. He’s a New York State licensed private investigator and he has started his own private investigation firm specializing in criminal defense and civil rights cases.
His first novel, The White Van was short-listed for a CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award, and listed as one of the ten best mysteries of 2014 by the Wall Street Journal, a best book of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle, and one of the 22 best literary debuts by Buzzfeed. His second novel, Every Man a Menace was released in October, 2016, and was also listed as top ten thriller of the year by the Wall Street Journal.